Ghostwriting

My daughter was a little bit outraged the first time she discovered that I am sometimes hired to write things for people and my name may never appear in the published work. Their name does! I explained that they hire me to do a job, and that once I submit it they can change it however they want to suit themselves, and that there are a lot of leaders out there who just can’t write who need to write stuff — or just don’t have the time anymore as they climb the stairs of success.

I have ghost-written large and small pieces for large and small pay. I will concede that it’s not my favourite thing. It inevitably involves muzzling my own writing voice, which is more like a writing yell, and it’s hard for me to be quiet.

But I also hire people all the time to do for me what I cannot do for myself and my household. I guess the difference is that I don’t say I painted the bannister.

Andy Crouch, an editor with Christianity Today wrote an interesting editorial on ghost-writing, you can read it here. (And after reading it, I think you will agree with me that we can be absolutely positive that he and he alone wrote it.)

“This is what is troubling about much of the work attributed to celebrity figures in the Christian world today—it is not their own work. It is the work of teams of people, often including highly skilled and dedicated researchers and writers,” writes Crouch.

Crouch’s editorial will rattle some cages.

Although I continue to ghost-write from time to time, I have also on two specific occasions requested that my name be put on something where it would have been left off otherwise. It was the appropriate time in my career and appropriate projects. I suspect the people I was working with would have been embarrassed to say no, because, in fact, there really was not a good reason to pretend the project was anything less than a creative collaboration.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Good reflection. Good link too. It’s hard to hand off journalistic, expository, thought-provocation pieces to others as a ghost writer. Rather easier when it’s a “message from the CEO” in an annual report or something similar – more of a technical challenge I find interesting – but I always ask them to do something to my prose to make it their own. (And your post’s photo alone is worth the visit).

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